The Swaziland Government has banned a march (expected to attract up to 20,000 people) to protest against murders because it is disrespectful of the king.
The Swazi government also says the march would paint a bad image of the kingdom.
The Times of Swaziland reports today (2 July 2008) that the rally, against the ritual murders that have been taking place in Swaziland in recent weeks, has the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
According to the Times, ‘organisers say they were informed that Cabinet advised against such a campaign citing political reasons.
‘The march had been motivated by the recent mystery disappearances and murders of women. Some of these have been found mutilated fuelling speculating that they were ritual related, as it is elections time. Between 10 000 and 20 000 people were targeted to take part in the march which was to be accompanied by a prayer.’
The Times reports that preparations for the national rally which was scheduled for this coming Saturday (5 July 2008) were at an advanced stage.
The Times says that Swazi Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Constance Simelane had already agreed on the national rally but when she took the matter to Cabinet last Tuesday the idea was not approved.
The newspaper says the Cabinet was said to have rejected the march for two reasons. One being that the king had already spoken against ritual murders and the other being that politically the kingdom’s image could be tarnished internationally.
Personally, I think the government doesn’t seem to notice that banning demonstrations and emphasising that Swaziland is not a democracy also paints a bad picture of the kingdom.
In Swaziland when the king has pronounced on a matter it is considered (by traditional authorities) disrespectful for anyone else to have an opinion (but you are allowed to agree with the king). Last month King Mswati III said that the ritual murders were a bad thing.
Director of Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA), Nonhlanhia Diamini, confirmed to the Times that Cabinet had rejected the national march against ritual killings.
‘The UNDP had already provided sponsorship and preparations were at a very advanced stage. Banners, T-shirts and transport had already been funded for but everything has been stopped,’ Diamini told the Times.
Members of the public from all cities and towns in all four regions were expected to participate, as were parliamentarians.